Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
It is my pleasure to present to the participants of the V World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Gypsies, held in Budapest (Hungary) from June 30 to July 7, 2003, as well as to all those who are concerned in the human and pastoral promotion of Gypsies, the Proceedings of the Congress. We hope it will be a useful instrument of further study and reflection to promote and foster pastoral care in favour of our Gypsy brothers and sisters who, at the dawn of this new millennium, are protagonists in a world which is more sensitive to the concepts of equality, freedom of mobility and human rights.
The well-being of the so called “Children of the Wind”, frequently emarginated, misunderstood and persecuted in the past and even today, are not only the duty of the Christian Churches, but also of NGOs, local Administrations and national Governments as well as of the Council of Europe (for those who are in Europe). I wish to place on record that it has recently taken a keen interest in the betterment of the conditions of its Gypsy citizens, who are blessed with a rich culture, traditions and precious values of their own.
Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte (§ 43) speaks on the spirituality of communion, which should also be the heart of the pastoral care of Gypsies. The Holy Father has many times offered encouragement for this people, so often treated as if they had no rights ‑ people to whom our specific solicitude is directed ‑ extending to his dramatic references the extermination of hundreds of thousands of Gypsies in Nazi concentration camps. Nor had Gypsies escaped persecution from other regimes over the course of the centuries. The theme of the Congress – “Church and Gypsies: ‘for a spirituality of communion’” – was chosen precisely to show the pastoral solicitude of the Holy Father for these people.
Much care has been taken to present these Proceedings in a multilingual version, but in any case they are available in six languages in our web-site (www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils). Here we publish only the original version of the main conferences with translation in another well known language.
I sincerely hope they will be object of further study and discussion in group meetings and seminars, especially among those who are involved in the pastoral care of Gypsies.
Stephen Fumio Cardinal Hamao
+ Archbishop Agostino Marchetto